Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review: ScienceandMath.com ~ Fractions

ScienceandMath.com Review
Terrific T was excited when I mentioned that ScienceandMath.com was offering their Mastering 5th Grade Math - Volume 1 - Essentials of Fractions for us to review. He's in 5th grade math now and has been exposed to fractions, but was looking forward to learning all about them. This says it's for grades 4-6, but as I'll discuss below, P did some and she is in 3rd, but it got too hard quickly so I think the 4-6th is pretty accurate. We received the physical DVD/CDRom set pictured below that currently retails for $15.99. It contains one instructional DVD and one CD that is full of the worksheets, answer sheets, and mp4s of all of the lessons. You can also get the downloadable version for $14.99.
When the set arrived, we put aside our other math curriculum and focused just on this for a few weeks. As with anything that talks (lol), all the kids came in when the video started. Captain C moved on to his own thing, but Princess P stayed put and watched the first lesson with us. I had only intended to use this with T, but figured it wouldn't hurt for her to watch too. She still did her normal math during this time, but added this in because it was fun.
The video lessons are taught by Jason Gibson, who has been making science and math teaching videos since 2004. He knows his stuff and was easy to watch and understand. He breaks everything down, even the basics. This really helped T to learn and understand what he was teaching. The DVD has 16 lessons:

ScienceandMath.com Review Review of Fraction Concepts, Writing Fractions as Words, Finding Factors of Numbers, Finding the GCF, Finding the GCF of 3 Numbers, Prime Factorization, Equivalent Fractions,Renaming Fractions,Simplifying Fractions Part 1,Simplifying Fractions Part 2, Review of Improper Fractions, Review of Mixed Fractions, Writing Mixed Fractions as Improper Fractions,Writing Improper Fractions as Mixed Fractions, Thinking of Fractions as Division, Writing Whole Numbers as Fractions

Each lesson is roughly 10 minutes long. He introduces the topic, then works several problems to really help the kids understand the concept. He works them all out on the white board for us as he explains it. We watched the videos together, then I printed out the worksheets that came on the 2nd CD in the set. There are 3 sheets for each lesson. In the beginning, we did one sheet out loud together, then T and P each took one of the other 2 sheets to do on their own. The beginning lessons only took about 10 minutes to work out and they really did have it mastered. I was impressed that both kids (grades 5 and 3) could do them.

Then we got to lesson 6 and it started getting a little harder for P. She still watched the videos with us but T was the only one doing the worksheets after that. We also moved from him doing one worksheet a lesson (so doing a lesson a day - well, we did one page orally and he did one page on his own) and slowed down so he really did master the concepts. We hadn't done prime factorization at all yet in his current math curriculum, so we took a few days on this and he did all three worksheet pages this time. The next lesson he got quickly and then we were back to needing all the pages. I like that you can print as many or as few as you need for the kids. If you didn't want to print them, it would be very easy to just copy the problems onto notebook paper and save the ink. My printer acted up midway through the lessons and we did them on the whiteboard until I could get it fixed.

We had about a month for this review and have almost finished the lessons. I think you could easily do the entire volume in 6-8 weeks and really have it mastered. They also have 3 other sets for 5th grade:

1) Mastering 5th Grade Math, Vol 1
(Covers fraction concepts, simplifying fractions, improper fractions, mixed fractions, and more)

2) Mastering 5th Grade Math, Vol 2
(Covers adding and subtracting fractions, mixed numbers, word problems, and more)

3) Mastering 5th Grade Math, Vol 3
(Covers multiplying and dividing fractions, mixed numbers, word problems, and more)

4) Mastering 5th Grade Math, Vol 4
(Covers order of operations, decimals, multiplication, long division, and more)

ScienceandMath.com Review

I am planning to get the 2nd volume to do over the summer with T and depending on how he does on that, we'll grab the next ones too. Fractions are very important to really master before moving to higher level math. The way Jason teaches really got through to T. He didn't complain about watching or doing these lessons, which is a nice change of pace. ;) The price is great for what you get too.
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